New era begins for Lions football

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Head Coach Frank Scelfo just completed his first Spring Game with the Lions football team. The Lions will continue to practice into the fall as they figure out the identity and the starters of the team. Jonathan Rhodes/The Lion's Roar

The Lions football team played their annual Spring Game for the first time under Head Coach Frank Scelfo in Strawberry Stadium. Team Gold, the offensive team defeated Team White, the defensive team 40-35.

Fans filled the seats to get a glimpse of how the Lions will look this upcoming season. Scelfo was glad to see fans be enthusiastic about Super Lion Saturday.

“The weather was gorgeous, and our campus is unbelievable,” said Scelfo. “Strawberry Stadium is a historic landmark. We got football, softball and baseball. How could you not enjoy yourself?”

The offense earned their points through touchdowns, first downs, trips to the red zone and big plays of 10 or more yards. The defense scored their points through turnovers, sacks and causing the offense to punt.

Even though the offense won, Scelfo liked some of the things he saw from the defense and hopes to see his young squad improve going into the fall.

“We got a lot of new guys on defense, so we got to find a systematic way to look at players and evaluate them,” said Scelfo. “That is what we did in the spring and will continue to do in the summer and the fall. We will find our 11 guys and find some good backups behind those guys. The main thing is making sure we have the right 11 guys on the field at all times.”

Team White forced three turnovers in the game with an interception caught  by junior Matthew Wright and two fumbles recovered by senior linebacker Sean Clavelle and junior Xavier Lewis.

“They did a good job today getting turnovers,” said Scelfo. “Obviously offensively, it’s disappointing from a turnover standpoint, but defensively, getting the turnovers is crucial, and we did that today.”

It looks like it will be a three-way battle for the starting quarterback spot between junior Chason Virgil, sophomore Byron Walker and junior Lorenzo Nunez. Virgil led the team with 101 passing yards on eight out of 12 passes followed by Walker who had 56 yards and Nunez who had 21 yards.

Nunez started last season and will have to fight to keep his job for this season.

“Me, Chase and Byron encourage each other to be the best player that we can be,” said Nunez. “At the end of the day, all we can do is play to the best of our ability and see who comes out on top.”

After the game, players and coaches interacted with the fans who came onto the field. Scelfo invited the fans prior to the game to come get autographs and take photos with the players and coaching staff.

“It makes you want to play harder ‘cause there is a reason why you want to play hard,” said sophomore defensive lineman Tainano Gaulua. “The love that they show to us makes us want to be here. If fans are just here to be here, you won’t feel it, but if they are cheering and hyping us up, it makes you feel good inside and want to play harder just for them, for team and for your family.”

The Lions will start this season on the road against the University of Louisiana at Monroe on Sept. 1 and against Louisiana State University on Sept. 8.